Donna More is a partner with Fox Rothschild Law Firm. She has been an attorney since 1983. She has been general counsel to the Illinois Gaming Board and was an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois and Assistant Cook County State’s Attorney. Her current practice provides compliance, regulatory, corporate and transaction services to clients in highly regulated industries such as gaming, medical cannabis, liquor, sweepstakes and contests. She has been noted as one of “The Best Lawyers in America.” She holds degrees from Tufts, Northwestern and Georgetown University. She is a Democrat candidate for State’s Attorney.
“The chief prosecutor is the nearest thing the County has to a centralized law enforcement official, and she ought to be setting the community’s anti-crime priorities. Instead, we’ve all been victims of a leaderless State’s Attorney Office.”
We recently sat down with Ms. More to chat.
Why do you want to be in politics?
I don’t want to be in politics. I want to run the States Attorney Office as a professional law office in charge of criminal justice in Cook County. There are two key points in being Cook County States Attorney. First, you have to prosecute crime no matter who commits it. Second, you need to be transparent, so that the voters, the public understands what you are doing. The benefit of being transparent is that it gives people faith and confidence in the office.
What would you have done in the Laquan McDonald’s case, as State Attorney?
As State’s Attorney I would have viewed the tape, I would have seen 16 rounds being fired in LaQuan, 14 of which were after he was on the ground. I would have seen from the video six or eight police witnesses and within a matter of weeks, a month, you indict the case. And what that does as horrific as the tape was, it gives the community a sense of justice that the right thing is being done.
What would you to improve the apparent corruption in the police department?
There is a clear perception that the community does not trust the Chicago police. The Mayor took action to replace the superintendent. That’s a first step. I think what has to happen is that there needs to be better training between the State’s Attorney Office and the Police Department. Right now, there is no consistency as to what is unacceptable conduct on the part of a police officer. The department bases its decision on influence not on evidence. For example, if a police officer is found to have provided perjury testimony nothing happens until the media reports it. Because the States Attorney tries to push these cases under the rug and they only get brought to the attention of the public through media coverage, police officers don’t know where the line is.
What changes would you bring about as State’s Attorney to restore confidence to the office?
I Have a vision of what I want to accomplish. That vision includes how to attack the problem of gun violence on the street. To do that, I would create a centralized gun court, what that does is provides prosecutors and judges with a better understanding of the players in the sell and transport of illegal guns into our communities. Secondly, under the gun policy, and as an Assistant US Attorney, I learned how to aggressively use the Grand Jury. We don’t do that state side. The Grand Jury is a tool by which you can build your case to get to the top of the food chain. Thirdly, is to create a Cook County safety alliance because we can only solve gun violence with everybody’s participation.
What would you do about repeat offenders?
I have had the opportunity to visit the neighborhoods and meet folks who are doing some amazing things to help people get out of prison. These are mostly African American men, who don’t want to be repeat offenders. They need jobs, mentoring and encouragement. The amazing thing is that there are groups performing those task. I met 25 men who were out of prison, working good jobs, making $40 a hour being straight. These groups are operating in silos. I would change that. I would get community activists, prosecutors, police, pastors, aldermen, and State Representatives involved.
What are you political aspirations?
I believe I can make change in the State’s Attorney office, I can make lives better. I will do that in two terms.
What’s your family and your girlfriends think about you running?
My 11 year old thinks it is really cool. My one girlfriend, says she thinks she is running too. My husband says it’s a family affair. It takes a village to run. In Cook County we need to bring the village together.
Who do you lunch with?
I lunch with my law partners, sometimes I try to work out at lunch. I am in meetings a lot with no lunch.
What do you do for enjoyment?
I am an avid exerciser. I am an avid tennis player. I love nothing better than reading a nice book.
Name your favorite books?
My favorite now is Taking Down Silos and The Boys in the Boat [by Daniel James Brown].
What’s on your playlist?
The music from Frozen (Disney Movie), old sixties music, Beatles, Sly and the Family Stone, and Michael Jackson.
Describe your leadership style.
To be a visionary, to have ideas of what I want to accomplish, to inspire those around me, to be the best they can be and to give credit to others for achievement. I think that is currently missing in the office right now. Lawyers are not given discretion in their court rooms. They need to feel comfortable doing the right thing and to know they won’t get in trouble for being right. They need to understand I would support them in doing the right thing.
Why did you participate in the march on Black Friday?
A message needs to be sent to our political leaders and all residents of the county that we need a fair justice system and we need a prosecutor that will be tough on crime no matter who commits it.
How would you describe your politics?
I have been a life long democrat. I worked for George McGovern when he ran for President. I contributed to Obama for president. I believe in the values of the democratic party, in that, we have to help those who are least off in our society and provide a safety and provide a hand up.
Who are you supporting for 2016 president?